Benois de la Danse, the international ballet prize known as the “Ballet Oscar”, is awarded annually for the most prominent accomplishments in choreography during the previous year.
The competition was founded in 1991 in Moscow by the International Dance Association (now the International Choreography Union) and presented for the first time the same year on the stage of the Bolshoi Theatre.
The outstanding choreographer and the president of the International Choreography Union Yuri Grigorovich has remained the program’s artistic director and chairman of the jury since the prize’s inception. Benois Center, a public non-profit organization, acts as the program’s organizer and directorate. The prize statuette was created by the famous sculptor Igor Ustinov, member of the famed Benois family.
Every year the international jury consisting of the world’s most prominent choreographers — heads of the largest ballet companies, outstanding dancers, famous teachers and world stars — makes nominations and, after elaborating through the year, determines the winners.
Shortly after its creation, the project was placed under UNESCO patronage in recognition of its tremendous creative potential and the ability to guide the development of ballet in Russia and in the world. In 1996 the competition was included in the World Decade for Cultural Development program.
In 2002 Russia’s Ministry of Culture included the project in the Cultural Heritage of Russia Federal Program.
In 2009 Benois de la Danse was placed under patronage and granted the right to use the logo of the European Cultural Parliament as a program of international importance.
Over 26 years of its existence, the prize was awarded in Moscow, in the Bolshoi Theatre and the State Kremlin Palace, in the UNESCO Palace in Paris, the National Theatre in Warsaw, the Unter den Linden State Opera in Berlin and the State Theatre in Stuttgart.
In 2002 the project, now grown to the size of a world ballet festival, returned to the Bolshoi Theatre.
All proceeds from the festival’s gala nights go towards personal assistance to ballet veterans of Moscow dance companies.